A lawyer’s in box — what a quaint phrase — gets filled in a variety of different ways. But what exactly is the allocation of work by source? Not being burdened or confused by any empirical data on the sources of legal work for in-house counsel, I will proceed resolutely to propound before your very eyes the ultimate list, adorned with irrefutable, iron-clad percentages, and all in declining order.
The largest portion of many lawyers’ time is for work that they take on independently, because it has to be done and they recognize that, such as litigation or securities filings (31.6 % of all time worked by in-house lawyers).
In the age of ubiquitous telecommunications, email triggers substantial legal work; its cousins, like the Blackberry, are rising on the frequency charts. Together they account for a total of 25.4 percent of a typical 10th year attorney’s time.
Quite often the telephone rings, and that starts the lawyer off on a project. Calls generate 21.2 percent of hours worked on corporate legal matters.
Quite commonly, during a meeting, a lawyer takes on a new task. This source accounts for 19 percent of work hours.
The third category is work assigned by another lawyer, which varies widely by the size of the department and its structure. Nevertheless, the unarguable percentage is precisely 15.8.
Rarely does a client drop in on our archetypal lawyer to start a project (5%).
Every now and then an inter-office envelope arrives with material to be reviewed (0.5 percent).
Note that the percentages do not add to 100, because they are totally fictitious – but they might be directionally correct.